Interview with Anthony Bowen, the COO of the Renaissance at ShorelandsMay 10, 2016
“The Renaissance at Shorelands is a place of quiet sophistication and opulence…but never overstated opulence. For us, luxury goes beyond the physical space, it needs to permeate through every aspect of the experience of living here, being careful to never intrude on the privacy of the residents.” So says Anthony Bowen, the straight-talking Chief Operating Officer of The Renaissance at Shorelands —an ultra-prime residential complex in North-West Trinidad—and he is clear on his vision of how to create an exceptional new standard of living for T&T’s most affluent residents.
A UK-trained hotelier with several awards to his name (including Hotelier of the Year in the Caribbean and the Virgin Holidays Gold Award for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism in the Caribbean), Bowen has decades of experience in catering to the world’s wealthiest. Unapologetically outspoken and singularly well-read, Bowen’s colourful anecdotes range from gambling with billionaire Sheikhs to learning the value of liquor while washing dishes in the Dorchester hotel’s kitchen in temperatures in excess of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. His rich personal and professional experience, together with his inimitable humour and shrewd understanding of excellent service, are just a few of the reasons Bowen was chosen to head up The Renaissance. As he says with his rakish twang, “I’m here to translate my knowledge of running a luxury hotel to enhance the experience of living in this beautiful space.”
When he came on board as Chief Operating Officer six months ago, Bowen set out with gusto to lead The Renaissance to its fullest potential. In this respect, his expertise as a hotelier has served him well; he sees no disparity between the service standards of a first-class hotel and those of a luxury residential complex. For him, the only difference is the length of time people spend under his care. Expanding further, he says, “I know what I consider to be five-star accommodation. I think [The Renaissance] is no different from Trump Tower or any of the luxury properties in Coral Gables, in London, or anywhere else in the world.”
This view has allowed him to instil a tone of international elegance at The Renaissance at Shorelands, one that makes the properties distinctively attractive to those who can afford them. Under Bowen’s management, the standard of service available to residents has also soared to global levels of excellence: for instance, his staff now automatically stand when anyone enters the room, because according to Bowen, “Respect is not a fashion, it is the first step towards creating excellence in service.” With an eye for quality and cutting wit, he holds his team up to the same level of excellence he rigorously sets for himself. Bowen has also taught staff to cater to residents’ every whim using his own service programme entitled ‘Yes, I Will’.
Outstanding service is now the hallmark of The Renaissance—but Bowen’s ingenuity means that living in these superb oceanfront properties also comes with a host of additional luxury perks and enhanced lifestyle offerings for the residents. It’s not enough that residents have a well-appointed spa and fitness facility, the residents’ wellness offering is expanding so they will be able to take yoga and Pilates classes within the property. Yes, The Renaissance has a large social room with a deluxe bar and cutting-edge entertainment systems but Bowen is developing exclusive social events for residents within that space. Bowen is also presently boosting The Renaissance’s concierge services, everything from delivering residents’ groceries safely to their homes to sourcing the best personal trainers when required by a resident. The outcome is Bowen has created a high-end living experience unlike anything else in Trinidad and Tobago.
Having partied at cricket matches with British rock legends, and discussed fashion controversies with American fashion tycoons, Bowen is well versed hobnobbing with the super-rich. He relies on networking and his contacts to put him in touch with prospective buyers, but maintains the exclusivity of the multi-million-dollar properties by carefully screening viewers, explaining, “I don’t need curiosity-seekers, and I don’t want everybody to see the home that you will eventually buy.”
His strategy has resulted in the recent sale of several units, and as The Renaissance’s reputation blossoms, it’s likely that all of the luxuriant homes will soon be off the market. Even more exciting are the potential plans for a marina: “We are in the exploratory phase of design and scoping of a luxury marina to complement The Renaissance,” says Bowen.
If he doubts the feasibility of completing these plans before the end of his two-year contract, he doesn’t show it, saying, “I’m very much a Buddhist. I live in the now. I know what I hope to achieve today.” However, this relaxed outlook shouldn’t be misconstrued as complacency. Bowen is nothing if not boyishly enthusiastic about the legacy he’s building for The Renaissance: “When you’re in this business, every day is a new challenge: maintaining that new standard and trying to raise it.”
It’s not in Bowen’s nature to be intimidated. Rather, he’s savouring each phase of moulding The Renaissance’s glittering present and future: “How do you climb [stairs]? One at a time. Some people like to run up them, but I like to take my time so when I get to the top I’m not panting. I can enjoy the view.” And at The Renaissance, the view from the top is certainly worth the climb.